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Wordpress vs Website Builders

Should you use Wordpress or a website builder to build a website? Well, it depends— mostly on you.

Last Updated September 9 2020

Steve Benjamins

Written By Steve Benjamins

Wordpress is a content management system (CMS)— not a website builder. CMS’s are flexible but have a learning curve. Website builders are less flexible but easier to use.

I’m going to explain the upsides and downsides for both website builders and Wordpress.

Webste builders are easier to use but have a steeper learning curve. A CMS like Wordpress has a steeper learning curve but is is more flexible.

Note: My work is supported by affiliate commissions. Read more »

Wordpress vs Website Builders

Should you use Wordpress or a website builder to build a website? Well, it depends— mostly on you. youtube.com

Different Editors

Website builders typically have a visual drag-and-drop interface that allows you to drag-and-drop elements around your website.

Squarespace, a website builder, has a visual drag-and-drop interface.

A CMS like Wordpress doesn’t have a visual interface. Instead, it has a form editor called Gutenberg. The form is abstracted away from the page so what you see on the form isn’t necessarily what the page will look like.

You may find yourself swapping between Wordpress's editor and the published website to see how everything is looking.

Ease of Use

Wordpress can be a little overwhelming. Non-technical users may find the language technical. Occasionally users may even have to tweak code to get a theme or a plugin to work.

Tweaking Wordpress theme code.

Tweaking Wordpress theme code.

Website builders tend to be easier to use. The expectation is that users will not need to tweak code.

Flexibility

Wordpress is more flexible than website builders— in large part because of Wordpress plugins. Plugins are basically add-ons for your Wordpress website. If you have an idea for something, you can probably find a Wordpress plugin for it.

Popular Wordpress plugins

Popular Wordpress plugins

Unfortunately Wordpress plugins occasionally need to be configured to work with your theme— which involves tweaking code. Website builders can’t match Wordpress’s selection of plugins but every “plugin” in a website builder will just work— no configuration necessary.

Hosting

Hosting is included with every website builder. You don’t have to configure hosting if you buy your domain name with your website builder— it just works.

Buying a domain name through Squarespace.com.

Buying a domain name through Squarespace.com.

Wordpress needs to be installed on a PHP & MySQL web host. You may even need to use an FTP client to upload Wordpress. This can be intimidating for non-technical users.

FillaZilla is a popular FTP client.

FillaZilla is a popular FTP client.

But here’s the upside: because you upload Wordpress to a host, you can also export your website and move it to another host if you choose to. Unfortunately you can never export and move your website with a website builder. If you want to leave you have to rebuild your website from scratch.

Conclusion

So remember: the decision to use Wordpress or a website builder is ultimately a tradeoff— it just depends on what you need. If you choose a website builder, you might find my guide to the best website builders helpful.

Written By Steve Benjamins

I’ve been building websites for over 20 years and websites have been featured in Wired, The Next Web, Smashing Magazine, The Huffington Post and Forbes. Read More →